Modern landscape




August 2014 • Nikon P310 camera

Rotterdam wants to dazzle you by its modern, contemporary architectural landscape. And what better way to showcase the city's ambitious plans by making the central rail station a great example as you arrive by train. The building was a collaboration between Benthem Crouwel Architekten, ,MVSA Meyer & Van Schooten Architects, and West 8. The trademark V-shaped stainless steel roof points out towards the city. Inside are wooden interior ceilings with a large glass entrance inviting the light through.

Besides the station sits the Gebouw Delftse Poort. An impressive modernism two tower glass facade building. It also goes by the name of the headquarters of insurance company Nationale Nederlanden. From the central station I walked down to the famous canal in Rotterdam, the Westersingel. Along this route is a well-known collection of outdoor sculptures, the Beeldenroute. There was light rain in the air while I walked down but nothing as heavy like it was when I was in Amsterdam

De Calypso & Pauluskerk

Mauritsweg, 3012 Rotterdam

The colorful Calypso building by Alsop Architects sits at the corner of Mauritsweg street. Drenched in crimson, orange and red, the building is a mixture of luxury apartments along with office and retail space. The uneven, jagged facade reminds me of something Frank Gehry would design and stands out as you walk down the street.

At the end of the Calypso is another unique design for a small church, the Pauluskerk. Geometrically nice with triangular facets it fits in well next to the Calypso.

The light rain had now gone and the sky turned a wonderful blue with a lot of sunshine. It's funny how quickly the weather can change. I was now making my way towards Rotterdam Blaak Railway station. Walking through the city center admiring the buildings along the way as well as the odd sculpture dotted around the city.

Cube Houses

Overblaak 70, 3011 MH Rotterdam

The interesting Cube Houses are a popular tourist attraction for Rotterdam. Located near the Blaak Railway Station, it connects a nearby market to the old harbor like a bridge. Designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom, an important pioneer of the Structuralist Movement, each cube house represents a tree. All together the houses represent a forest.

Titled 45 degrees, the residential Cube Houses are divided into three levels. The lower level is the living room and kitchen. The intermediate floor above has two bedrooms and a bathroom. The upper level is a triangular small space used as a spare room or kids play area. One of the Cube Houses is open for visitors and for a few euros you can take a look around.

Did you know...

Rotterdam has the biggest seaport in Europe. It is is currently 11th in the list of busiest container ports in the world (2014)

Willemsbrug bridge & Noordereiland Island

My architectural walking tour now led me to cross the Nieuwe Maas River by way of the Willemsbrug. This bright red bridge connects the northern part of the city to the southern part. While crossing the bridge, I had an amazing view of another bridge in the distance which I will get to have a closer look at later on.

The Island of Noordereiland is a charming place with amazing views of the skyline of buildings across the river. The area is famous for The Hef, a disused railway lift bridge built in 1877.


51° 54′ 33″ N, 4° 29′ 12″ E

One of the icons of Rotterdam, the Erasmus Bridge was officially opened in 1996 by Queen Beatrix. The bridge was designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel of the architectural practice UNStudio.

The bridge has an iconic 139 metre high asymmetrical pylon, where the bridge gets its nickname “The Swan”. It's pretty impressive as you get up close and is well worth visiting this elegant structure.

De Rotterdam

Wilhelminakade 177, 3072 AP Rotterdam

The highlight for me on this tour was the impressive De Rotterdam. Its designed by the country's most celebrated architect, Rem Koolhas's studio OMA. The dynamic appearance reminds me of another one of their buildings, the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing. De Rotterdam is located on the southern bank of the river. This colossal building dominates the skyline for all to see. The 44-storey interconnected glass towers spans a width of over a hundred metres.

The design of the building itself looks like four tower blocks that half way up shifted the wrong direction. The blocks contain office spaces, a hotel, residential apartments, restaurant and cafes. I took a water taxi back across the Nieue Maas to get a better view of both the building and the Erasmus Bridge which was nearby. And more photos 😄

Essalam Moskee

Vredesplein 7, 3074 SN Rotterdam

A very unexpected building that caught my eye from the train window into Rotterdam station was a mosque. The Essalam Mosque, built in a traditional Islamic architecture, has two minarets and is one of the biggest mosques in Europe.

It was a short walk south of the De Rotterdam, so I quickly went to take some photos before catching the water taxi back to the north of the city.

Final thoughts

As a day trip, Rotterdam is fairly easy and quick to get to from Amsterdam by train. Following a walking tour from my Lonely Planet guide book I got to see some of the architectural highlights of Rotterdam—the main reason why I came to the city.

And I was not disappointed. From the Cube Houses to De Rotterdam, the city has an impressive skyline and I'm sure there is more to come in the future.

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